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Building Performance - Energy Efficiency in Design


Over the past five years the Dublin School of Architecture has developed a range of upskilling programmes in Nearly Zero Energy Building (NZEB) for building design professionals. NZEB is the energy performance standard required under the European Union Energy Performance in Buildings Directive (EPBD). This Directive requires that all new public buildings must meet the NZEB standard from the end of 2018 onwards, and ALL new buildings from the end of 2020 onwards. The Directive also provides for the deep renovation of existing buildings to the NZEB standard beyond 2020. Achieving the NZEB standard will require a culture change at all levels in the building industry, from procurement, to design, construction, use and maintenance of the building over its life cycle.

This will require industry upskilling on an unprecedented scale across the EU. From our experience in developing upskilling programmes over the past five years it is clear that the extent of the knowledge gap within the disciplines of the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector is as yet neither appreciated or acknowledged. Recognising the scale of this emerging upskilling challenge the lecturing team in the DIT School of Architecture has developed new skills and teaching methods over the past five years and has prepared a range of new programmes in science based building performance.

Programme outline

The Postgraduate Certificate in Building Performance (Energy Efficiency in Design) (PGCertBP(EED)) programme is a 1 year part time programme, delivered over two semesters, which has been designed to enable professionally qualified architects, architectural technologists, engineers and building surveyors to develop skills in energy efficiency design as the basis the design of for new and renovation building projects. The programme combines inline learning assessments with project work and explores a range of design tools required for NZEB design of residential and non-residential building types using a variety of digital modelling and environmental design software applications.

The blended online Postgraduate Certificate sits within a larger MSc and Postgraduate Diploma.

Postgraduate Certificate in Building Performance (Energy Efficiency in Design)

The Postgraduate Certificate aims at up-skilling and refocusing of building design professionals in a range of conceptual analysis tools, centred on energy and thermal performance calculation methodologies, computer modelling and analysis skills, and the application and development of these in a capstone project centred on Nearly Zero Energy Building performance targets.

Semester 1 introduces NZEB context, technologies, U value and cost optimal calculation principles and energy modelling using the SEAI Dwelling Energy Assessment Procedure (DEAP).

Semester 2 focusses on design tools commencing with energy modelling using the Passive House Planning Package (PHPP), hygrothermal risk assessment using the WUFI Pro application, and 2D thermal modelling using the PsiTherm application.

Each module is assessed through a combination of online computer based formative exercises and summative assessments and the application of module learning to an end of semester capstone project or projects.

On successful completion of the PGCert BP(EED) programme the student will be able to:

1.Analyse and calculate the thermal performance of new and existing buildings using a range of fabric heat loss calculation methods and computer applications.

2.Develop building design proposals which incorporate and integrate airtightness design and installation requirements within a whole building energy performance design and construction strategy.

3.Assess and implement ventilation design strategies which support and compliment a low energy building fabric performance receiving environment.

4.Execute an assessment of surface condensation risk (fRsi) in building fabric assemblies using linear thermal bridge calculation in order to develop code compliant construction details which manage mould risk.

5.Execute an assessment of condensation risk analysis in building fabric assemblies using hygrothermal modelling and develop code compliant construction assemblies to manage hygrothermal risk.

6.Appraise a low energy building design proposal to determine overheating risk potential and propose fabric and services installation mitigation measures to manage overheating risk.

7.Manipulate building space, layout and orientation to optimise geometry and form factor as a fundamental design driver in achieving passive low energy building performance at optimal cost.

8.Apply the principles of life cycle cost analysis in selecting fabric interventions, services installations and renewable technologies and apply an understanding of the financial parameters impacting on cost optimality

Entry requirements

The PGCert BP(EED) programme is open to the following categories of applicants:

Registered Architects
Professionally qualified architects who are or have been members of the RIAI, subject to interview.

Registered Architectural Technologists
Professionally qualified Architectural Technologists, subject to the requirements scheduled below.

Registered Building Surveyors
Chartered Engineers

Professionally qualified Engineers, subject to a minimum 2.2 Level 8 qualification plus 2 years minimum relevant accredited professional experience, or equivalent.

Other technical design professionals subject to a minimum 2.2 Level 8 qualification plus 2 years minimum relevant accredited professional experience, or equivalent.


Part Time - 1 Year / 2 Semesters

The programme can be completed over a longer period as a series of modules which combine to form a Postgraduate Certificate, a Postgraduate Diploma and ultimately an MSc.

Careers or further progression

Career Opportunities

For building design professionals such as architects, architectural technologists, engineers and building surveyors, an understanding of NZEB will be critical to professional survival. The NZEB standard will apply to all new public building from the end of 2018 and to all buildings by 2020. The need for NZEB upskilling is clear.

Graduates of the Postgraduate Certificate in Building Performance (Energy Efficiency in Design) will be qualified to apply a range of NZEB and building performance design tools to assess the energy performance in new and existing buildings.

They will be able to research and advise on insulation options assessed as safe in accordance with the best international standards and detail, specify and oversee the installation to ensure performance targets are met.

Graduates will understand the dynamics of thermal, moisture and air movement through building fabric and understand the need to design the optimal balance of all three to ensure the integrity of any retrofit solution proposed and protect the structural longevity of the building fabric.

Their skills will be equally applicable to new build work where the principles of building fabric design are significantly more easily accommodated.

With energy analysis skills building on and enhancing their construction industry experience, graduates will be ideally placed to secure employment in the area of energy renovation of the existing building stock – an emerging and expansive field of construction activity across the European Union, in response to the recast Energy Performance of Buildings Directive.

MRIAI and RIAI (Arch Tech) graduates will be eligible to apply for RIAI Sustainability Accreditation.

Further enquiries

Programme co-ordinator

Cormac Allen - Assistant Head of School
Dublin School of Architecture
College of Engineering & Built Environment
Dublin Institute of Technology, Bolton Street, Dublin 1

Subjects taught

The programme is delivered through a series of modules, some in blended online mode supported by workshops every four weeks, some in traditional part time college-based mode.

Semester 1 of the PGCert is delivered through a series of three 5 ECTS blended online modules as follows:

•ENER1xx1 NZEB Policy & Technologies
•ENER1xx2 NZEB Calculation 7 Cost Optimality
•ENER1xx3 Energy Modelling Tools #1 (DEAP)

These modules can combine to form a CPD Diploma in NZEB Tools.

Semester 2 of the PGCert is delivered through a further series of three 5 ECTS blended online modules as follows:

•ENER1xx4 Energy Modelling Tools #2 (PHPP)
•ENER1xx5 Hygrothermal Risk Assessment for Building Performance
•ENER1xx6 Thermal Bridge Calculation for Building Performance


Qualification Awarded: Postgraduate Certificate in Building Performance (Energy Efficiency in Design) (postgraduate Level 9 special purpose award)

Location: Dublin School of Architecture, College of Engineering and Built Environment, Linenhall, DIT Bolton Street, Dublin 1

Assessment method

The programme is delivered in blended online mode and comprises online and college based modules.

Online modules are assessed through a range of computer based assessments while college-based project modules are assessed through a range of techniques including project work, group work, assignments, and presentations.

Application date

Closing Date: The general closing date is 30th April 2019. Please note that late applications may be accepted subject to availability.

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: September 2019

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